Since July 1, 2011, Minnesota state law has permitted the use of taxpayer funds for human cloning. Such research is unethical, deeply unpopular among the people of Minnesota, and offers very little potential for therapeutic benefits, in contrast to
ethical stem cell research that is already saving lives.
During the regular 2011 legislative session, the House and Senate passed a measure to continue the existing (2009-2011) prohibition on state funding of human cloning (in addition to passing a second measure to prohibit cloning outright). Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the pro-life provision (and all other pro-life measures), and it was subsequently excluded from the special session compromise in a deal struck between Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers.
The measure would have simply prevented state funding of human somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the process by which organisms are cloned. SCNT produces a new human organism at the earliest stages of development who is genetically virtually identical to an already-existing human organism.
The University of Minnesota, among some others, vigorously opposed the prohibition on human cloning funding, despite admitting that its scientists are not currently pursuing the research. The University explained that it might want to pursue SCNT in the future in order to create cloned human embryos to then kill for research (so-called “therapeutic cloning”). No therapeutic benefits have resulted from cloning research; continuing success with ethical adult stem cell research, and the breakthrough of ethical induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research, seem to make cloning therapeutically obsolete.
Writing in the Star Tribune, University researcher John Wagner dishonestly claimed that legislation banning human cloning was “a full-scale assault on stem cell research” and would “criminalize lifesaving work at the University of Minnesota.” The bill would not have affected any stem cell research—or any other current work—at the University.
“University of Minnesota scientists and spokespersons shamelessly misled Minnesotans about the nature of SCNT, the result of SCNT (an organism at the embryonic stage), its relation to stem cell research, and its therapeutic potential,” notes Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). “In addition, never did the University offer an ethical defense of creating young members of our species by cloning in order to kill them for research purposes.”
MCCL has launched a new feature on its home page (www.mccl.org) tracking the time elapsed since state funding of human cloning was legalized and the resulting benefits for Minnesotans. There have been no benefits.
Polling confirms that most Americans oppose human cloning. “It is indefensible that our tax dollars can now be used to clone human beings,” states Fischbach. “The next state Legislature must rectify this unjust and wasteful policy.”